When he rounded the dark corner, they were walking along the terrace towards a figure which was coming towards them. If he had seen it by itself, under such conditions of gas-lamp, mist, and distance, he might not have known it at first sight, but with the figure of the girl to prompt him, he at once recognised Miss Wade.
He stopped at the corner, seeming to look back expectantly up the street as if he had made an appointment with some one to meet him there; but he kept a careful eye on the three. When they came together, the man took off his hat, and made Miss Wade a bow. The girl appeared to say a few words as though she presented him, or accounted for his being late, or early, or what not; and then fell a pace or so behind, by herself. Miss Wade and the man then began to walk up and down; the man having the appearance of being extremely courteous and complimentary in manner; Miss Wade having the appearance of being extremely haughty.
When they came down to the corner and turned, she was saying,
'If I pinch myself for it, sir, that is my business. Confine yourself to yours, and ask me no question.'
'By Heaven, ma'am!' he replied, making her another bow. 'It was my profound respect for the strength of your character, and my admiration of your beauty.'
'I want neither the one nor the other from any one,' said she, 'and certainly not from you of all creatures. Go on with your report.'
'Am I pardoned?' he asked, with an air of half abashed gallantry.
'You are paid,' she said, 'and that is all you want.'
Whether the girl hung behind because she was not to hear the business, or as already knowing enough about it, Clennam could not determine. They turned and she turned. She looked away at the river, as she walked with her hands folded before her; and that was all he could make of her without showing his face. There happened, by good fortune, to be a lounger really waiting for some one; and he sometimes looked over the railing at the water, and sometimes came to the dark corner and looked up the street, rendering Arthur less conspicuous.
When Miss Wade and the man came back again, she was saying, 'You must wait until to-morrow.'
'A thousand pardons?' he returned. 'My faith! Then it's not convenient to-night?'
'No. I tell you I must get it before I can give it to you.'
She stopped in the roadway, as if to put an end to the conference. He of course stopped too. And the girl stopped.
'It's a little inconvenient,' said the man. 'A little. But, Holy Blue! that's nothing in such a service. I am without money to- night, by chance. I have a good banker in this city, but I would not wish to draw upon the house until the time when I shall draw for a round sum.'
'Harriet,' said Miss Wade, 'arrange with him--this gentleman here-- for sending him some money to-morrow.' She said it with a slur of the word gentleman which was more contemptuous than any emphasis, and walked slowly on. The man bent his head again, and the girl spoke to him as they both followed her. Clennam ventured to look at the girl as they Moved away. He could note that her rich black eyes were fastened upon the man with a scrutinising expression, and that she kept at a little distance from him, as they walked side by side to the further end of the terrace.
A loud and altered clank upon the pavement warned him, before he could discern what was passing there, that the man was coming back alone. Clennam lounged into the road, towards the railing; and the man passed at a quick swing, with the end of his cloak thrown over his shoulder, singing a scrap of a French song.
The whole vista had no one in it now but himself. The lounger had lounged out of view, and Miss Wade and Tattycoram were gone. More than ever bent on seeing what became of them, and on having some information to give his good friend, Mr Meagles, he went out at the further end of the terrace, looking cautiously about him. He rightly judged that, at first at all events, they would go in a contrary direction from their late companion.